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Is it Necessary?

Is it worth the extra time and expense to advance your education to a master’s degree? The answer depends on your career aspirations. No doubt, a graduate degree will open more doors and look more impressive on your resume. The degree can help you work in public service positions for a variety of criminal justice-focused organizations.

The FBI, for example, has more than 200 categories of crime. The agency investigations include organized crime, corruption among public servants, espionage, drug and human trafficking, financial crime, kidnapping, terrorism, cybercrime, and many more.

FBI applicants must be college graduates and have either an advanced degree with two years of work experience or least three years of professional work experience. Those who have majored in accounting, electrical engineering, information technology, or computer science; are fluent in a foreign language or have a degree from an accredited law school are particularly good candidates.

Another federal agency is the U.S. Marshals Service. You must have a Bachelor’s degree in any field. They may look for a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a rank in the top third of your college, or membership in a national scholastic honor society. In addition, you must have one year of graduate school in a field related to the job. Possible fields of study include sociology, criminal justice, and law.

How fast can I earn the Degree?

Once decided on the degree, you may wonder how quickly can you complete a master’s program. Typically, a 32 credit-hour master’s degree takes two years. There are colleges that offer accelerated programs that reduce this substantially. Many of the criminal justice and related programs are available online for the convenience of working adults. The following are examples of some of the more expeditious options.

An online Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Program is designed to accommodate both pre-professional students who wish to further their education and those already working in criminal justice. The courses cover a range of topics in the administrative area. Criminological theories in justice administration studies principles of the major criminological theories, including sociological, biological, economic, environmental, and psychological theories about the etiology of crime. A course in legal issues examines broad legal issues across the criminal justice system and within the confines of justice administration.

This online 31 credit hour program can be completed in as few as 12 months at the University of the Cumberlands.

Angelo State University’s (ASU) Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice offers an accelerated master’s degree. Their online Master of Science in Criminal Justice benefits people working in the field or preparing for federal, state, or local agency law enforcement.

ASU’s 36 credit-hour program allows students to transfer a maximum of nine semester credits hours completed in a regionally accredited institution. The curriculum consists of coursework in justice administration, research methods, the criminal justice system, as well as elective courses (12 hours).

The courses, delivered in 8 and 16-week formats, can be completed within 18 months.

A third option is a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice that has 11 classes and 33 credits. The online criminal justice program offers valuable training in research methods and statistics, program planning and management, policy analysis, and program evaluation. This program includes a required capstone course, Theory, and Practice in Criminal Justice, in which you will write a comprehensive research paper focusing on a criminal justice policy or practice.

Arizona State University offers this Master’s program to both full-time and part-time students. Full-time students can earn the degree in as little as 18 months. Part-time students will take longer to complete the degree but must fulfill all requirements for the degree within six years from the date of their first course.

Multiple formats afford flexibility and reduce the completion time at Albertus Magnus College. Their Master of Science in CJ is one of the Accelerated Degree Programs. It is offered in these formats:

  1. Online – Take one to two classes every eight weeks from the comfort of your own home. All weekly assignments are offered asynchronously, meaning you have the ability to work on them at your own time and pace.
  2. Blended – Take one to two classes every eight weeks through a combination of in-class sessions and online assignments. (Classes take place at their New Haven, Connecticut campus.) You attend the blended classes one night per week; all other assignments are done from home.
  3. Flex – Choose to take classes in either a blended or online format. Some students are not sure of their schedules. They may want to take blended classes during one eight-week session but then sign up for online classes during another eight-week session. With the FLEX format, you can choose how you wish to take your classes every time you register for a new course.

Students studying full time at Albertus Magnus College can complete this program within one year.

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The Master of Science with a Major in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) program from Trine University is an accelerated one-year program for adults with a bachelor degree that provides education for both pre- and mid-career individuals serving their communities as law enforcement, corrections, or court practitioners. The curriculum prepares these professionals to assume key leadership roles within the justice system or the private sector.

Additional Resources

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